Puzzling putting year continued for Jordan Spieth in Memorial at Muirfield Village, but for the better

DUBLIN, Ohio – With Ben Crenshaw, one of the greatest putters the game has ever seen being The Memorial honoree, it was natural to ask players in the field who was the best with the short stick they’ve ever seen.

Jordan Spieth’s name popped up quite a bit.

“Jordan Spieth is up there,” Rory McIlroy said. “I think especially from that sort of middle distance, every putt he hits is just like the perfect speed. I think that’s one of the things I always notice when I play with Jordan.”

Spieth proved why his name popped up so many times in Thursday’s first round of Jack Nicklaus’ annual gathering at Muirfield Village Golf Club. He had 11 1-putt greens, gained 3.250 on the field with his putting and needed just 25 in all.

He made birdies from 12, 8, 12 and 7 feet and canned par saves of 7, 17, 8, 3, 7 and 10 feet en route to a 2-under-par 70.

Memorial: Thursday tee times | PGA Tour streaming on ESPN+ | Columbus Dispatch live blog

“I didn’t strike the ball really well at all and I putted great,” Spieth said. “Kind of the opposite of how things have been going, but I’ve been putting in a lot of work in with the putting and made a couple early and then just kept it going made a birdie early and kept it going.”

It’s been a puzzling year on the greens for the three-time major champion. For instance, he won the RBC Heritage despite saying he had one of his worst putting weeks in his PGA Tour career that week. And he ranks 173rd in Strokes Gained: Putting this year. In 2019, he ranked second.

“Same stuff,” Spieth said when asked what he’s working on. “Had some misreads, just been looking for the hole to catch a few, and let it get going. This morning might have been the best putting surfaces I’ve ever been on in my life, they were that good. So you knew there was no excuse, and then they were so quick that wherever you’re going to start, it’s just going to roll perfectly.”